The Minnesota Wild were beaten by the Nashville Predators 7-3 Sunday night in St. Paul. This was the first regulation loss for the Wild this month giving them marks of 4-1-1. This was also the final regular season game for both teams. The Wild took the season series between the Central Division foes 3-2-0. Next up for the Wild are the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Next up for the Predators are early April tee times for the second year in a row. The Minnesota Wild looked exceptional for the first 24 minutes of Sunday’s game building a 3-1 lead. The next 30:44 saw them give up 6 unanswered goals in what would have been an embarrassing loss if the game had meant anything. Bottom line on this game is that it had no bearing on making the playoffs, playoff positioning, or even season series bragging rights. The Wild played some very good offensive hockey in the first period, not so great defensive hockey. They were not blocking shots Sunday night. They were not making big hits. They were not forechecking hard. They were not going all out in icing puck races. This was a team trying to play hard while not getting hurt. We know the reasons they weren’t blocking shots. They are named Parise, Koivu and Spurgeon. All of them miss significant time this season due to foot/ankle injuries from blocking shots. Why take that chance in a meaningless game. The same goes for throwing big hits and taking big hits. There’s no sense in taking yourself out of action a game before the playoffs start.
Now on to the highlights and lowlights of tonight’s game. The Minnesota Wild started off scoring the games first goal on a scramble in front of Nashville net minder Carter Hutton then ended with Erik Haula scoring his 6th goal of the season and has 7 points (3g, 4a) in his last 7 games. The second Minnesota goal was Jason Pominville‘s 30th of the season. He’s just the 3rd Wild player to hit the 30 goal mark, Marian Gaborik and Brian Rolston are the other two. Sunday also marked the 6th time Pominville has played all 82 regular season games. That’s quite a feat for any player in the NHL today. The Predators would cut the lead to 2-1 after Wild goalie Ilya Bryzgalov left the net to play the puck and fell down. That left a wide open net for Rich Clune to snap the puck into.
The Second period started well for Minnesota with Zach Parise scoring a power play goal just 2:10 into the period. That would be his 29th of the season, second on the team behind Pominville. From that point on things got ugly for the Minnesota Wild from a defensive standpoint. They surrendered the nest six goals as Nashville scored 4 in the second and two more in the third period ending the night with a 7-3 final score. It wasn’t a pretty ending to the regular season for the Minnesota Wild and it also ended Brygalov’s unbeaten in regulation streak since joining in the Wild. His record now stands at 7-1-3 since coming to Minnesota in a trade deadline deal. Another bizarre sequence occurred in the second when The Wild’s Matt Cooke said something to Predator Rich Clune who lost his mind and attacked Cooke in front of the Wild bench. Clayton Stoner came to Cooke’s aid but not before Clune had dropped his glove and went ballistic on Cooke. I’d love to know just what Cooke said to set Clune off like that. Clune picked up 14 minutes in penalties for his transgressions including, minors for cross checking and roughing along with a 10 minute misconduct. Clayton Stoner receive a 2 minute minor of roughing. Cooke was not penalized.
The Minnesota Wild now have Monday off before a pair of intense practice days on Tuesday and Wednesday before opening the first round of the playoffs Thursday evening in Colorado against the Avalanche. I’ll be back on Thursday with a preview of Game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche. Until then this is Scott Drain shouting our way into the playoffs with, “LET’S GO WILD, LET’S GO WILD!!”